One year later, Kabul’s chaotic fall reverberates for Biden
The chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan one year ago, ending a 20-year conflict, undercut President Joe Biden’s pledge to restore competence to the White House. With Monday being the one-year anniversary of Kabul’s takeover by the Taliban, the Afghanistan debacle continues to hang over the Democratic president, even as his counter terrorism strategy yields consequential results with last month’s killing of top al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri. Biden’s approval rating fell below 50% for the first time following the messy U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power. His standing still hasn’t recovered amid a convergence of other crises, including 40-year-high inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, the extended COVID-19 pandemic and the spread of monkeypox.
DACA was supposed to be temporary. 10 years later, is it working?
Monday marks 10 years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was created by the Obama administration. DACA allows qualifying children of immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally protection from deportation, access to driver’s licenses and permission to legally work. President Barack Obama introduced DACA in 2012 as a temporary relief until Congress passed more permanent solutions. It never did, and today recipients cling to the tenuous policy as a portal to opportunity. DACA has been under steady attack – from former President Donald Trump, a barrage of lawsuits and state and federal lawmakers who argue it is illegal to allow some immigrants to stay here without an act of Congress. A federal appeals court in New Orleans is expected to rule on the policy this year.
Sen. Ed Markey leads US delegation to Taiwan, 12 days after Pelosi trip
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen met Monday with a five-member delegation of U.S. Congress members, led by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, in a further sign of support among American lawmakers for the self-governing island that China claims as its own territory. Reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait and investments in Taiwan’s crucial semiconductor industry are expected to be key topics of discussion. The visit comes less than two weeks after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which prompted days of threatening military exercises by China, including sending missiles, warships and warplanes into the seas and skies around Taiwan for several days afterward. The Chinese government objects to Taiwan having any official contact with foreign governments, particularly with a high-ranking congressional leader like Pelosi. Markey, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee, met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol Sunday in South Korea before arriving in Taiwan.
Russia ready for steps toward Brittney Griner prisoner exchange
The Kremlin is ready for “a professional conversation and concrete steps” toward freeing WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American in a prisoner exchange, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Sunday. “People who are to deal with these matters are ready,” Zakharova said on Rossiya-1 TV, after being asked about a deal that would include Russian national Viktor Bout. “And this work is not done in the public eye.” Bout is serving a 25-year sentence on a 2011 conviction in New York on charges of conspiring to kill U.S. citizens, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles and providing aid to a terrorist organization. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that Russian officials had been approached about a deal to free Griner, convicted in Russia on drug trafficking and possession charges, and Paul Whelan, convicted on espionage charges. Blinken has said both Whelan and Griner are being “wrongfully detained.”
Vanessa Bryant civil trial against Los Angeles County resumes
Vanessa Bryant’s civil trial against Los Angeles County continues Monday. On Friday, the jury heard testimony from three witnesses, including Douglas Johnson, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who took close-up photos of dead bodies from the helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others. Bryant’s legal team believes Johnson started the spread of the gruesome photos among sheriff’s personnel after taking them for dubious reasons. Bryant and Chris Chester, a financial adviser who lost his wife and daughter in the same crash, sued the county in 2020, accusing county sheriff’s and fire department employees of taking and sharing photos of their deceased loved ones from the crash scene despite having no legitimate reason for it. The trial, which reaches its fourth day Monday, could continue for over two more weeks.